How to Tenderize Calamari

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Crispy, golden and mouth-watering tender rings of fried calamari work either as an appetizer or a light main course. Squid tends to become rubbery and tough if it's prepared improperly or cooked at the wrong temperature. Quick cooking at high heat helps tenderize it, which is why it's often served as fried calamari. You can use other tricks to further ensure your calamari develops the right texture and doesn't turn into a plate of fried rubber bands.

How to Tenderize Calamari
(POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media)

Things You'll Need

  • Knife
  • Cutting board
  • Bowl
  • Milk
  • Paper towels
  • Flour or cornmeal
  • Seasonings
  • Frying pan
  • Vegetable oil
Step 1

Freeze the squid overnight and thaw it out in the refrigerator the day before cooking it. Alternatively, purchase frozen calamari and thaw it out overnight in the fridge. Freezing and thawing squid before cooking it helps tenderize the meat.

POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media
Step 2

Cut the squid into 1/4- to 1/2-inch rings, depending on the desired thickness. Rings thicker than 1/2 inch cook more slowly, which can result in a rubbery texture, while rings thinner than 1/4 inch are more prone to overcooking and becoming tough.

POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media
Step 3

Soak the rings in a bowl of milk for 1 hour to further tenderize them. Keep the bowl in the refrigerator while the rings soak.

POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media
Step 4

Drain the milk and pat the rings until they are almost, but not completely, dry, using a clean paper towel. Dredge the rings in flour or a cornmeal and flour mix so they are evenly coated. You can season the flour before dredging -- salt, pepper and cayenne all complement the flavor of calamari.

POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media
Step 5

Heat 3 inches of vegetable oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit in nonstick pot. Cooking quickly at a high temperature helps keep calamari tender.

POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media
Step 6

Fry the calamari in the hot oil in batches of four to six rings. Fry for 3 to 4 minutes, turning once, or until the batter becomes crisp and golden. Allow the oil to reheat to 375 F before cooking the next batch of calamari. Drain the finished squid on a paper towel before serving.

POHIAN KHOUW/Demand Media

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